Wed, February 21, 2018

Four “orphaned” gorillas growing in small group

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Our gorilla trackers have been monitoring an interesting situation with four young gorillas who became separated from their mothers at an early age. Last year, the mothers of 4-year-old Fasha, 5-year-old Icyororo and 3-year-olds Masunzu and Umugwaneza all transferred out of their group within a short period of time, with some of the youngsters quite young to be fully independent. Luckily the silverback in the group – Kubaha — has been helping to care for and protect them.

But these “orphans” then faced additional challenges as well. Last spring, Fasha got caught in a snare, and was saved when our trackers noticed she was missing from the group. And in December, three of the youngsters got separated from their group during an interaction with another group. They then traveled on their own for several weeks before finding their group again. Our trackers followed them every day and were astonished at their resilience and confidence!

Fasha, who was freed from a snare in April of 2017

Now that these youngsters are back in their group it is still a very interesting situation because there are no adult females left in the group – just some other young males (blackbacks) and one subadult male. The four young orphans  (two females and two males) all share a night nest with silverback Kubaha, though the older two are starting to show increased independence and helping to support each other. They all engage in frequent grooming sessions with each other, which indicates a great level of affiliation – or affection as we call it in the human world.

Gorilla “orphans” sharing a night nest with silverback Kubaha

Click here to read previous stories on these orphans and their challenges.

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